Liz Truss to host Maroš Šefčovič for first meeting as lead negotiator of Brexit

Liz Truss to host Maroš Šefčovič for first meeting as lead negotiator of Brexit

UK FOREIGN Secretary Liz Truss will today host Maroš Šefčovič in what will be her first meeting as lead negotiator with the Vice President of the European Commission.

It is the first face-to-face meeting between the pair, with Truss having taken over from Lord Frost last month.

The meeting will take place at the Foreign Secretary's country residence Chevening House in Kent.

In a statement, Truss said she will surge the EU to fix the problems in the Northern Ireland Protocol  to deliver for Northern Ireland and protect the Good Friday Agreement.

"There is a deal to be done that protects peace in Northern Ireland, defends our Union, and maintains the integrity of the United Kingdom and EU. But it will require a pragmatic approach from the EU," she said.

"I will be putting forward practical, reasonable solutions starting from these fundamental principles, with a view to agreeing a plan for intensive negotiations.

"The EU has a clear responsibility to help fix the myriad problems caused by the Protocol and protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. As fellow believers in liberty and democracy, we should be capable of reaching an agreement that delivers for Northern Ireland and allows us to unleash the full potential of our relationship."

The Northern Ireland Protocol is a deal created through Brexit which prevents a hard Irish border by keeping Northern Ireland inside the EU's single market for goods, and was agreed by the EU and UK in October 2019.

Unionist partied believe the protocol undermines Northern Ireland's position within the UK, while the EU accepts that there difficulties are arising for businesses in the north.

The EU is offering proposals which it says would mean physical checks on goods would be about 80% lower than typical required at an EU border, but the UK government is sceptical of such assertions.

The UK is proposing an assumption that most goods entering the north from Great Britain would be staying in the north and therefore would not be at risk of crossing the border into Ireland.

Also present at the meeting today will be Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis.

"Unintended consequences of the Protocol are creating major challenges in NI," he said in a tweet.

"Important these are addressed, protecting NI’s place in the UK internal market and tackling the real issues communities and businesses face."

Tweeting before Christmas, Šefčovič said he had reached out to Truss to discuss relations between the UK and EU, particularly with the Northern Ireland Protocol in mind.

"I'm committed to continue working towards a conclusive understanding with the UK on practical solutions for NI stakeholders," he said.

"The EU's position is known. Our goal: stability and predictability."